Litton Agricultural Education Center Dedicated
The Realization of a Dream...
By Laura Schuler, Constitution-Tribune
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
"I believe in the future of agriculture with a faith born not of words but of deeds..." - FFA Creed
CAPTION: The new 15,000 square foot Litton Agricultural Education Center at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center was dedicated Tuesday night in front of a crowd of 120 supporters. The completion of the $2 million project culminates 10 years of partnerships between local foundations, the R-2 School District, and other supporters.
What began as simply a dream over 10 years ago officially became a reality Tuesday night with the dedication of the new 15,000 square-foot Litton Agricultural Education Center. A crowd of 120 project supporters attended the event, which included tours through the $2 million facility, a catered dinner and remarks from several guests. The night culminated with the formal presentation of the building and a mock, oversized key to Michael Leamer, Chillicothe R-2 board president.
Ed Turner, master of ceremonies and vice president of the Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation, welcomed those in attendance and then recognized the members of the foundation and the Litton Agri-Science Center Advisory Committee. He also noted that the completion of the new building wouldn't have been possible without support from the R-2 administration and board, the Grand River Technical School's administration and ag staff, Chillicothe FFA officers, Copeland Development and Construction (the project's contractor), and former 7th District State Rep. John Quinn. "This is a wonderful evening - one that some of us have been looking forward to for some time," Turner said.
He soon gave the microphone to Mayor Chuck Haney, a long-time friend of the Litton family. In brief remarks, Haney related that the event was one of the highlights of his career in city government.
CAPTION: Dave Copeland (right) of Copeland Development and Construction, presents an oversized, mock key to the Chillicothe R-2 board president Michael Leamer (left) at the end of the dedication ceremony.
CAPTION: Jim and Karen Kay Summerville look at a display honoring the late Charles and Mildred Litton Tuesday night following the dedication ceremony.
CAPTION: Will and Susan Davis take a look at one of the displays in the Litton Memorial Museum at the Litton Agricultural Education Center following the facility's dedication ceremony.
CAPTION: New signs have been erected at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center to direct traffic to the various facilities.
The unattached 24-by-48-foot greenhouse just west of the Litton Ag Education Center is going up. When classes are held in the education center building next school year, the greenhouse will be used by landscaping and nursery agricultural classes taught by R-2 ag instructors.
Ag Building Advances
C-T Photo/ Laura Schuler
Workers pour a concrete floor for the new 15,000 square-foot agriculture building at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center today. Once the steel building is finished, it will house three new classrooms, a new classroom laboratory, a new ag shop, storage for classroom activities, 4-H and FFA, and community interests. The building will also have a Litton museum, a tornado-safe room for 600 people and a horticultural greenhouse. The $1.6 million project is being funded by three entities - $500,000 from the R-2 district, $500,000 from the Litton Foundation, and the remaining balance from a state grant.
Ag Building Work Progresses
C-T Photo/Laura Schuler
Plumbing and electrical work is currently being done at the site of the new $1.6 million agriculture building at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center. Copeland Development and Construction Company workers say the work is being done in preparation of pouring concrete. That may happen next week, depending on the weather. The project is being funded by three entities - $500,000 from the R-2 district, $500,000 from the Litton Foundation, and the remaining balance from a state grant.
District Deficit Budget
CAPTION: Site preparation for the new ag building at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center continues this morning. The R-2 board approved a contract for the actual construction of the building with Copeland Development and Construction for $1.6 million during Tuesday night’s board meeting. Construction on the building is slated to begin within the next two weeks, according to district officials. David Brown Construction is handling the site preparation.
The Chillicothe R-2 School Board has amended the 2009-10 budget to reflect a spending deficit of $200,059. Although that figure may seem high, it is less than the $240,000 spending deficit Superintendent Dr. Linda Gray Smith had predicted earlier in the year.
Smith noted that the budget is revised every quarter and is in no way a final document. She added that the current budget reflects changes in the district’s career ladder, tuition rates for the Chillicothe Alternative Center for Education, the Grand River Technical School and the district's new autism and behavior management classrooms. Smith said the district should be receiving its state aid payment at the end of the month, which would further solidify the budget numbers - as would the collection of taxes at the end of the year.
The board also approved a contract with Copeland Development and Construction in the amount of $1,607,204 for the construction of the new ag building at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center. The board had approved Copeland’s bid earlier in the year.
The contract for the dirt work, which is being done by David Brown Construction, has already been approved and is nearing completion. Work on the actual construction of the building is estimated to begin within the next two weeks.
$1.6M Bid for New Ag Building
The Chillicothe R-2 school board voted Tuesday night to accept a $1.6 million bid from Copeland Development and Construction Company, of Chillicothe for the construction of the district’s new agriculture building at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center. The action came during the regular July meeting held at district headquarters.
Copeland Development's bid was one of three submitted for consideration. Other bids came from Irvinbilt Company and Case Contracting LLC - also local companies. Specifically, Copeland Development submitted a bid of $1,606,024. Case Contracting's bid was the lowest - $1,508,500; and Irvinbilt’s bid was $1,835,100.
Board members said all three bids were reasonable and were submitted by highly-respectable local companies. However, they noted that Copeland Development’s bid was more complete and detailed. The board also noted that the district prefers an on-site supervisor on the project site at all times.
The project is being funded by three entities - $500,000 from the R-2 district, $500,000 from the Litton Foundation, and the remaining balance from a state grant. The project is a design-build project, which means that the district offered some building perimeters to the bidding companies, along with the total amount of funds to be spent. The bidding companies then make proposals, draw up plans and conduct the engineering work.
According to Ron Wolf, co-director of the Grand River Technical School, the design-build process allows for more ideas and saves money on architect and engineering fees. Wolf says that work will begin next week on the site, which is located northwest of the Jenkins Expo Center. Copeland Development will state work on the site in early September and the project is slated to be completed by April 2010. Classes will be held in the building for the first time during the 2010-11 school year.
Once the doors open, all agricultural classes currently being taught at the GRTS will be moved there, as will the offices for the agricultural instructors. The building, which will measure 15,000 square feet, will also include a 1,200 square-foot green house, and a "safe room," designed to offer shelter for between 800 to 1,000 people.
$500,000 for New Ag Building
CAPTION: The Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation is awarding $500,000 to the Chillicothe FFA Alumni Association to help fund construction of the new agricultural education building at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center. Pictured are, front row, from left: Randy Constant, R-2 board president; Dr. Linda Gray Smith, R-2 superintendent; Bonnie Mitchell, Litton Foundation secretary/treasurer; Ed Turner, Litton Foundation vice president. Back row, from left: Rusty Black, Jim Grozinger and Leda Schreiner, agriculture instructors; Merle Doughty, Don Chapman Jr., Kenneth Churchill and Jim Summerville, Litton Foundation board members.
C-T Photo / Laura Schuler
The Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation is awarding $500,000 to the Chillicothe FFA Alumni Association for the new agricultural education building at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center. The donation, according to Ron Wolf, co-director of the GRTS, is a result of planning completed and a commitment made by the late Mildred Litton prior to her death on Dec. 25, 2008.
“The Litton Foundation has been a long-time supporter of agriculture education, FFA and other school activities,” said Wolf. He noted that the foundation has contributed more than $1.4 million to the development of the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center, the Jenkins Expo Center and to the support of student projects. “Many school projects would never have been possible without the initiative, the support and the generous contributions. The Litton Foundation is truly a loyal and committed supporter of agriculture and the FFA,” Wolf said.
The Grand River Technical School received a Vocational School Capital Improvement grant in June 2008 for up to $1.3 million to be used on the building. The grant will reimburse the R-2 district half of the total cost of the project. The proposed agriculture building will be 15,000 square-feet and will include classrooms, a shop, laboratory, greenhouse and offices. In addition, a display dedicated to the Litton family will be included in the new facility at the Litton Center. The estimated cost for construction is $2 million.
Construction on the agriculture education building is likely to begin this summer. Bid proposals, Wolf said, will be sent out in late March to early April. Construction is hoped to be completed by the summer of 2010. The building will be located north of the parking lot of the Jenkins Expo Center and west of the Rotary shelter house.
School district plans are for the agriculture education program at Grand River Technical School to move from the GRTS to the new facility in 2010. The addition to the GRTS will allow the agriculture program to consolidate the facilities already in place at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center. The move by the agriculture program will provide additional space at the GRTS for existing programs and the development of new programs. The current GRTS facility was built in 1967 for 350 students and eight programs. Currently, the GRTS has over 650 students and 14 programs.
State Budgets $1.1
Million for Ag Center
Grand River Technical School may soon receive $1.138 million in state funds to build a new agricultural education facility at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center.
The agriculture program offered at GRTS currently takes up about a quarter of the space at the school and Rep. John Quinn said that building a new center will free up valuable space that GRTS desperately needs. Ron Wolf, director of GRTS, said that the current GRTS building was originally built for about 350 students and is now being used to house nearly 700.
The funding is part of the Missouri state budget set up for capital improvement projects. “Our state budget for the next fiscal year comes in at 22.4 billion dollars,” said Quinn. “We have taken the time to make sure every single dollar is being spent wisely.”
Quinn also stated that one of the most important services the government provides is education. “This marks the fourth year in a row we have increased funding to education,” said Quinn. The budget will include funding for multiple projects within the State of Missouri, including plans to build a new GRTS Ag Center. Quinn stated that he addressed the importance of Chillicothe's Grand River Technical School and how beneficial this type of program was to Missouri.
Plans would include a 15,000 square foot facility with lab space and classrooms. The ag department would then be moved to the Litton Ag Center. "It would be to our advantage and to the teacher's advantage to have class and labs all in the same spot," said Wolf. He also stated that moving the ag department would free up much needed space at the current school for new programs.
The newly sketched agricultural building is still in the planning stages. The new building has been reported on at board meetings but is stalemate at the current time. "We're waiting on the state," said Wolf. The governor has to sign the bill to pass. The money will then be available July 1 of the next fiscal year and then has to be spent within two years after that date.
Grand River Technical turned in an application for the funds last October. "We had support from our legislators," stated Wolf. "John Quinn and Brad Lager wrote letters of support for us to get this bill passed."
The budget bill is through appropriations and now awaits Gov. Matt Blunt's signature. The state will reimburse general revenue funds up to $1,137,500. The funds are a 50/50 local match, which means that even after the bill is signed, GRTS will need to raise matching funds for the project; totaling $2.275 million.